Developers for two different smartphone Linux distributions have announced updates in the past few days that make it easier to install and/or try out new features on the PinePhone.
One of my favorite things about the PinePhone is how easy it is to try out different operating systems. Just download the latest build of the OS you want to try and use a tool like Etcher to flash it to a microSD card. Insert the card, reboot your phone, and the PinePhone will run the OS. Take out the card and reboot and your phone will run whatever operating system is installed on the internal eMMC storage instead.
Want to install an OS directly to your phone’s built-in storage? There’s a tool called Jumpdrive that lets you do that, but it’s a kind of clunky process that involves flashing the Jumpdrive image to a microSD card, booting your phone from the card, and then connecting your phone to a PC which will view the PinePhone’s eMMC storage as removable storage, allowing you to flash a disk image to it.
Now the developers of postmarketOS are offering a simpler way to flash their GNU/Linux distribution to a PinePhone’s internal storage.
When you download the latest build of postmarketOS for the PinePhone, just pick a version that ends in -installer.img.xz and it will include a graphical installer. Instead of booting straight into the operating system the first time you boot from the SD card, you’ll see an installer that asks if you’d like to install postmarketOS to the SD card or to internal (eMMC) storage.
As of late January, 2021, installer images are available for the latest edge channel builds, but not stable channel. But the postmarketOS team will eventually include the installer in upcoming stable releases as well.
Of course postmarketOS isn’t the only operating system available for the PinePhone… not by a long shot. One of the rising stars in this space is Manjaro, which has been releasing new builds with bug fixes and new features at a rapid pace.
Now the Manjaro team is kicking things up a notch and offering daily development builds for the PinePhone in three flavors:
- Manjaro with Phosh user interface
- Manjaro with Lomiri user interface
- Manjaro with Plasma Mobile user interface
One down side to these daily builds is that they don’t necessarily come with release notes or changelogs. But you can always check out the Manjaro ARM forums for more details.